How long have you been the only person working in your business? Even if you have a few other people working with you, if you’re the one doing all the heavy lifting, it may be time to re-evaluate a few things.
You can’t keep making things up as you go, changing to meet every new challenge, and adapting to every curveball if you want to have a successful business. If you’ve had a series of “make it work” moments in your business lately, it’s time to take a step back and fix that.
Get Clear on Your Role
If you’re looking to grow your business, then you need to think of yourself as the CEO, not a solopreneur, not the sole proprietor. You can’t keep handling everything by yourself, because you’ll be spending so much time working IN your business that you won’t have any time or energy left over to work ON your business.
First, identify all the tasks in your business that truly require the work and talent of a CEO: those are now your tasks; everything else can be given over to someone else. If you’ve already got contractors or employees working for you, talk to them about expanding their role in the company. If they aren’t the right folks for the job, or if you need more people to accomplish all of those tasks, it’s time to start the hiring process. Bring on as many new team members as you need to in order to give yourself the time to truly step into your role as the CEO of this company.
Get Clear on Your Vision
If your brain feels like a browser with too many tabs open, chances are you’re pursuing too many goals at once. Choose just ONE goal at a time, and put all your energy into achieving that goal. If you try to chase too many goals at once, you’ll never really get all the way to achieving any of them; narrowing your focus means that you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more in the long run.
If you feel like you don’t have the time or the headspace to sit down and get clear on your vision, go back and read that last section again, because that probably means you need to hire more help.
Communicate Your Vision
You have a team, and you have a vision: now it’s time to put those two things together. One quick caveat: everyone in your business doesn’t need to have a detailed knowledge of your entire vision. However, each person in your business probably does need to know specific parts of that vision. Start by distilling your mission and vision into one short statement, no more than a paragraph. Share that with everyone in the company, so that they can help you achieve that vision and represent it as they work in your company. Then, think about the people who might need even more information and what that would look like. Your accountant or CFO, for instance, needs more details on your financial goals. Your right-hand guy or gal probably needs a bigger or more detailed vision plan. Your social media person needs to understand how to paint the picture of your company online. Give each person the information they need, but don’t muddy the waters for them by giving them too much.
The last step in communicating your vision is just to make sure that everyone on your team knows specifically what their role is in helping you carry out your goals. What jobs do they need to do, what’s their area of expertise, what are their tasks, and when do they defer to someone else? Communicating these roles clearly will help your team run like a well-oiled machine.
Hold Everyone Accountable
If you have clearly communicated the roles and tasks for everyone in your company, the next step is to regularly check in on their progress. Schedule time for an annual review (or more frequent, if you think that would help) for every employee. Check in on their performance, give and receive feedback on how things are going for them, and set goals for the next year. As needed, during these reviews you may discover that it’s time to let someone go, or to hire some new people to help balance out the workload or take on new tasks.
Remember, as the CEO you’ve got to hold yourself even more accountable than everyone else. The buck stops with you, and that means you also need to check in with yourself. Evaluate your own performance, make sure you’re doing everything you need to be doing (and not avoiding the tasks you find uncomfortable or unpleasant), and drive the ship that is your business. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, you can’t expect your team to follow you.
If you feel like you could use some help in this process, I’d love for you to join the Operations Engine. It’s full of business owners who are working on transitioning to the role of CEO, and it includes guidance and help along the way from me and from the other members of the group. Growth can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it all by yourself: click here to schedule a call and learn more.
In case no one has told you recently: it’s okay to take some time to stop focusing on growing your business all the time, and just focus on maintaining what you’ve built. If you believe a lot of the “experts,” growth should be your only business goal; if you’re not growing, they’d have you believe you’re failing. The truth is, however, that 100% growth 100% of the time just isn’t sustainable – and if your business isn’t sustainable, that’s the real problem.
You may find yourself reaching the point where you’re very comfortable with your business where it is right in that moment, and you’re ready to just keep that level going. Other times, you may need to take a season or two to just hold your business where it is, because the things going on in your life outside of work need more of your attention. In any case, sustainability is a perfectly acceptable business plan. Being in a constant state of stress about your business is the thing that’s really not sustainable; if that’s where you are, it might be time to take a step back and focus on maintenance.
Questions to ask yourself when you’re evaluating the sustainability of your business:
1. Does my income meet all of my financial needs? Whether you want your business to supplement a household income or pay every bill, is it able to do that every month with consistency?
2. Am I happy with my income? Do you feel good about what you make, and do you feel it’s worth the amount of time and effort you’re putting into your business in order to earn that income?
3. Am I able to maintain my desired lifestyle? Remember, YOU get to decide what success looks like in your business, so now it’s time to decide: do you feel successful with the income you’re earning?
4. Am I working a schedule I’m comfortable maintaining in the long term? Does your business schedule suit your lifestyle? Are you working a reasonable amount of hours, or working yourself to death? Can you keep up with your current pace over the next several years?
5. Am I happy with the people I work with? This includes your clients or customers, employees, contractors, colleagues, and mentors. Are you surrounded by people who light your enthusiasm from within? Do you enjoy the people you communicate with in order to run your business?
6. Am I confident and content with the actual work I do? Think about the daily tasks you have to complete in your business as well as the services you offer your clients. Do you actually enjoy doing those things, day in and day out? Would you be happy doing them for the next five or ten years?
7. If I lost a client or customer, could I replace that income? The thing about sustainability is that it does require some growth; however, instead of growing bigger each year, you’re just growing to replace anything that changes or is lost. If you are able to replace clients when you lose them, then you have a sustainable business.
Once you can say “YES” to the questions above, then you’ve got a sustainable business. It’s time to just keep doing the work you’ve been doing, growing to replace or replenish rather than to increase and expand. Make sure to check in regularly with your measurable outcomes so that you know you actually are sustaining your current level of business, and you’re good to keep going for the next season or all the seasons to come, whatever you choose to do.
If you’re not quite able to confidently answer those questions, I’d love to help! Click here to schedule a call and see if for the Operations Engine, a group coaching program where we will work on fixing any misaligned GEARS in your small business. We’ll figure out where you need to make any necessary changes in order to get your business to full sustainability, and also identify the areas that are already working exactly how they should be.
The secret to a successful business isn’t glamorous or exciting; it’s all in the details. Creating and maintaining consistent, regular systems is absolutely essential to the overall health and growth of your business. If you don’t have a system for everything in your business, it’s time to create one.
Systems help every single person in your company do their job accurately and effectively. A good system eliminates the need for most questions, clarifies any confusing areas, and streamlines the process of onboarding new people or transitioning roles within the company. Every standard operating procedure (SOP) in your company needs its own system, and that needs to be well documented. Take a look at the SOPs in your business, and use the process outlined below to make sure each one functions as part of an effective system.
Identify the SOPs
What are the everyday procedures you follow in your company? Think about every single aspect, everyone’s role, every internal process and client interaction. If you repeat a task more than once ever, it needs a system.
Here are a few areas that might need a system in your company:
- Customer service communication (emails, phone calls, in-person)
- Customer interactions (sales, returns, leads & funnels)
- Content production (blog posts, newsletters, sales funnels)
- Social media (posting, commenting, messages)
- Financial tracking
- Goals & priorities, vision planning
- Specific procedures related to creating or delivering what you sell
- Technology issues, web maintenance
- Inter-office communications
- Chain of command explanations
- Any task that any member of your team regularly performs
It may feel redundant to document some of these things that you have been doing for a long time, but doing so helps you plan for the future of your business.
Document Every Procedure
Once you know what needs to be part of a system in your business, the next step is to document it. The goal is that a new person with a reasonable amount of skill who is taking on this task or role would be able to have an 80% chance of success in following your system without a lot of extra help. Choose an app or location to document all of your company’s systems, and begin by asking the person who currently does this task to start by making a list of the steps they take to complete that task each time.
Tip: A simple document works fine, but a task or project management app is often better, only because it allows you to duplicate the task each time it needs to be repeated, and to assign due dates or repeated cycles of the same task.
Here are some things that should be included in your documented system:
- Login information, passwords, or other access-related information
- If the task involves unique technology, a how-to for accessing or using the technology should be included (separately or within the task documentation, whichever is more appropriate)
- Brand-specific information that will be needed (HEX color codes, fonts, links to specific products, common terminology you want a person to use when completing this task)
- A step-by-step process of how to complete the task from start to finish
- Information about how to mark the task as completed or notify a person who needs to know when it has been completed
Once the system has been documented, it’s important to remember that this is a living document; it can and should change as you streamline and update the systems in your company.
Put the Systems to Work
Once your systems have been created, it will take some time to practice using them. If at all possible, ask your team members to trade tasks for one day, just to see if a person who didn’t create the procedure is still able to follow it. If that isn’t practical for your company, just make sure that the people who created the system continue to use them, and add in any updates that they notice as they do so.
The key to consistency in your business is to follow the same procedures every time; so once you have created these systems, you have to actually use them regularly. Even when a task becomes familiar or comfortable, a solid system prevents someone from missing a key step.
Do you need some help identifying and creating the systems for your business? Creating and maintaining systems is one of my favorite things to do, and I’d be happy to help you put this gear into place for YOUR business – click here to book a consultation.
Money isn’t the only resource in your business, but for most people it is the one that inspires the most stress. If you don’t have your financial situation in order, it can be hard to even consider the other resources you need to manage in your business.
Is your business supporting you financially right now? Is it on track to support you in the future? If you can’t answer that with a definite “yes,” then it’s time to take stock of your business finances.
Know Your Numbers
The first step to effectively managing your business finances is to actually know your numbers. Do you regularly track the income and expenses for your business? Do you create (and stick to) a monthly or quarterly budget?
If you’ve been avoiding your financial reports because you’re afraid of what they might tell you, it’s time to get brave and dig in. If you don’t know the real numbers of your business, you won’t be able to plan for any type of financial goal in the future. If someone else manages your money, that’s fine – but make sure you’re scheduling regular time with that person to review your finances and communicate your goals, so that the two of you are on the same page when it comes to money.
Regulate Your Withdrawals
Do you regularly pay yourself in your business? How do you feel about that system – are you earning what you want to earn as the CEO of your company, or do you wish you could pay yourself more? If you think you aren’t paying yourself, double-check your monthly withdrawals. If you have been regularly taking money out of the business to cover personal expenses or “emergency” situations, then you ARE paying yourself; it’s just that your income isn’t consistent or planned.
Your business absolutely should be paying you an income; if it isn’t, then it’s time to set some goals to get yourself there. On the flip side, your business also needs to take care of itself. Are you able to regularly cover your expenses, both planned and unexpected? If you haven’t had to scramble to cover costs in the last few months, then you have a business that is financially healthy. If, on the other hand, you regularly have unexpected expenses, financial emergencies, or situations where you have to pull from personal savings to cover your business (and vice versa), then your business finances need a little bit more attention.
Fund the Future: Sustain or Scale
On a regular basis, you should be able to cover your regular expenses AND fund your business growth. That might mean that you are able to pay for additional classes, an employee or a contractor to hire into the business, or even just put money into a vacation fund. If you can’t pay for every single thing you’d like to do in your business, that’s perfectly normal; but if you can only cover the absolutely necessary expenses, then you probably need to take some action to grow your business financially in order to allow for more flexibility.
Whether you want to sustain your business as it is, or grow it to a larger scale, your finances need to support that vision. If they don’t, then maybe it’s time to get some help understanding what needs to change, where you can improve, and how to get a firmer grip on your finances. I’d love to have a frank conversation with you about your business finances, and help you get them on track to reach your goals.
Click here to book a session with me – let’s tackle this problem together.
Most successful business owners have mastered the art of being accountable to others. You deliver on time to your clients, you write regular checks to your team, you never miss an appointment with your mentor or mastermind group. When it comes to being accountable to yourself, are you just as reliable? Or do you let yourself fall short because no one else is on the receiving end of your accountability?
If you want your business to thrive or grow, you need to be just as accountable to yourself as you are to everyone else. Part of this means that every quarter, you set aside the time to do a check-in on your business. You need to know exactly where you stand right now, and also be able to compare your current situation to past performance in order to set goals for the future.
Right now, schedule some time on your calendar to do an accountability check-in with your business this month.
Here’s what you should be checking for:
- Numbers: Look at your key performance indicators, metrics, and financial reports from the past quarter.
- Team: Evaluate the performance of each of your team members over the past quarter.
- Vision: What are your goals for the rest of this year? How about longer than that? How close are you to achieving those goals, based on the information you’ve found today?
For each of the key areas, make a place to document your current status. A spreadsheet or document where you can keep records for each check-in together would be the best option.
As you document your check-in, make sure to record the following information:
- Where am I right now for this indicator? What is the actual performance in this area for the past quarter? (This should be something measurable – dollars, percentages, number of clients, etc.)
- How does this compare with last quarter? How does it compare to this quarter of the previous year? (If you haven’t done a check-in like this before, you may have to save this question for next quarter.)
- How does this compare with where I would like to be at this point in my business? (This is a time to celebrate any successes and reevaluate anything that isn’t working.)
- Are there any outside factors I need to note? (This might include things like natural disasters, a global pandemic, a personal health issue, a loss of a team member, etc.)
At the end of your check-in, take some time to adjust your goals if need be, and then schedule your next check-in for the following quarter right away. Prioritizing this type of assessment is key to the life and success of your business, so you have to find a way to hold yourself accountable for it, no matter how busy life gets.
If you need some help on that accountability piece, I’d love to offer you that. Book a session with me and I will help you break down your current numbers, set manageable goals, and – most importantly – hold you accountable for taking the action required to meet those goals, and to establish a regular habit of checking in on your business.
Click here to book a call. I look forward to talking to you soon!